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YouTube on Friday reached its most extensive alliance with a traditional media organisation to date, as it launched two “channels” carrying short clips from the BBC and announced plans for a third.

For the publicly-funded British broadcaster, the deal marks the first step in a broader plan to spread short video clips from its news and entertainment divisions across a wide range of online communities and portals, said David Moody, head of digital media and strategy at BBC Worldwide.

YouTube’s attempts to bring more licensed mainstream video content to its site have hit a roadblock in recent weeks, as TV companies in the US have pushed for better financial terms and evidence that YouTube can fight piracy more effectively.

BBC and the Google-owned video site would not discuss terms, except to say they would share advertising revenue from two channels that will carry content from BBC Worldwide, the commercial arm of the BBC, and that no other payments were involved. Speaking last month, Eric Schmidt, Google chief executive, said his company had earmarked substantial sums to make upfront payments to win such deals.

The decision to go ahead with a deal comes despite the widespread availability of clips on the site from BBC shows such as The Office and EastEnders posted by users without the organisation’s approval, as well as Google’s failure so far to implement fully a promised system to block such material automatically.

“The BBC’s copyright position is unchanged by this deal – we take our intellectual property seriously,” Mr Moody said. He added that the BBC would continue to tell YouTube to remove material posted by users.

One of the channels launched yesterday was a public service channel carrying news and specially commissioned entertainment, such as a fictional video diary of Dr Who, limited to users with UK IP addresses, which will not carry advertising. Also launched was a worldwide entertainment channel with clips from BBC shows. A global commercial news channel will follow “in the near future”, the two sides said.

Advertising is initially limited to banner and “skyscraper” messages.
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